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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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this Government have handled it—all the decisions have been taken by the
War Cabinet; and the responsibility is the responsibility of the War
Cabinet. . . .
My hon. Friend spoke of our relations with the Polish Government, and
asked;, was it true that I have not had direct contacts with the Polish Prime
Minister or members of his Government ? It is true that we have not had
personal contacts with them, but it is also true that I have frequently seen
the Ambassador who represents that Government. I have seen him,
naturally^ since I returned from the Crimea. Perhaps I ought to add, as
a matter of historical accuracy^ that I had arranged an interview with the
Polish Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary just before we went to
the Crimea, but an incident occurred, which will be fresh in the mind of
the House—that we had a sudden and unexpected Greek Debate; and I,
therefore, asked my Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan,
to see them instead. I think the House will accept it that there has not
been any discourtesy on the part of His Majesty's Government. I cannot,
however, pretend that we have the same cordial relations with the present
Polish Government as we had with the Government which preceded them,
and which included, as, unhappily-, this Government do not., all the main
Polish parties represented in London.
... A word about the frontier itself. My hon. and gallant Friend the
Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) and others, including the mover of
the Amendment;, who raised this issue, always begin at the Treaty of Riga ;
but it is really completely unrealistic to begin this discussion at the Treaty
of Riga. I admit that it is true—there is no question of it—that the Soviet
Government ultimately accepted the Treaty of Riga, but nobody with a
knowledge of the history of those parts is going to contend that Russia was
content with that solution, or, indeed, that we were content with that
solution. As the House knows, and as I have stated before, we more than
once urged the Polish Government at the time not to extend their frontiers
East beyond the Curzon Line, and for two years after the Treaty of Riga
withheld our recognition of that arrangement.
. . , The Conference of Ambassadors made it clear that, in their recogni-
tion of the Riga frontier, two years after the Treaty had been signed, there
was called for—put it this way—the setting-up of an autonomous regime in
Eastern Galicia for ethnographical reasons. In point of fact, that autono-
mous regime was never set up. . , . What happened was this. ... As the
Eastern Galicia area—which is the one, I think, in most dispute—was an
area of mixed population, with Poles in the minority, the Poles sought to
increase their own population in that area by bringing other Poles in, with
the result that that, in its turn, led to friction. Further, there was the issue
which, the House must bear in mind, underlies the whole of this frontier
problem : the religious issue between the Roman Catholic elements and
the Orthodox Church. The religious difference in that area is far older
than the national issue, and it is religion which lies at the root of much of
the feeling on this issue.
I have explained before the basis on which the Curzon Line was delimited,
but this at least can be accepted by everybody, whatever else we dispute—
that east of the Curzon Line there are no areas where the Poles are in the
majority except Wilno and Lwow, .... I, therefore, say that when the
Soviet Government say that they will accept the Curzon Line with certain
adjustments, minor adjustments, but all in favour of Poland . . . I cannot
stand at this Box and say that I regard that as a gross injustice to
Poland. I would put this to my hon. Friends. Are they absolutely
convinced that the structure of the Polish State is strengthened by the